Few films have had a cleverer nor more effective marketing campaigning that 2017’s It. The online buzz was massive weeks before its release and the steam never seemed to slow. The film had so much going for it; a director who had already created a well-reviewed horror film (Mama), nostalgia from people who enjoyed the original and looked to see how the remake would fare, and some of the creepiest and most intriguing advertising in recent years. Some films are solely horror, while others are solely comedy, but few are able to find an operative way to blend the two and produce something worthwhile, regardless of which genre is more prominent (I plan on writing a feature article about the amalgamation of horror and comedy in the near future). It is a horror film that is loaded with hilarity, reminiscence, peculiarity, and wit around every corner; although when it comes to the terror, scare for scare, it may be in the middle percentile of recent horror gems, even if it is a better movie than them.
The film discloses the story of seven young teens who spend their summer of ’89 escaping bullies, abusive parents, and murderous clowns. When kids begin to go missing in their small town, the group soon realizes that an other-worldly clown who manifests their cruelest fears is to blame and try their best to fight it while staying alive.
“The Losers Club” includes young and upcoming actors; Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff. Maybe it’s a testament to the clever script or a communicative director, but rarely are child actors able to give off such a sense of maturity and understanding of the script. Each of the kids’ charisma and comedic timing were better than most actors/actresses in modern traditional comedies. They were able to play off scared and dramatic when necessary but shined when riffing and spewing dick jokes.
The villainous clown, Pennywise, is something else entirely, in character and performance. Bill Skarsgård, son of Stellan Skarsgård and brother of Alexander Skarsgård, gave an irksome interpretation, to say the least. His screen time was surprisingly limited, but what he did with those precious minutes was something to marvel at. Few horror icons are able to go as far off the wall as someone can with Pennywise, yet Skarsgård kept a somewhat conservative (as conservative as you can be with a clown) that made him much more mischievous and ultimately frightening.
I liken the film to the original Poltergeist; to claim it as not scary would be false, the horror is at the forefront but not it’s single greatest factor. It is a melting pot of emotions that culminates nicely. Letting the film digest for a bit, you realize that to a studio executive the film would have been a mess to pitch; a horror film that’s also equal parts coming of age tale, love story, raunchy comedy, and drama about grief. Each of those have been successful in their own rights, maybe even blending two together, but never all. On paper, even I would have guessed that the film would have felt like too many cooks in the kitchen, so accolades to the director must be given for his ability to not only succeed, but in spectacular fashion.
Director, Andy Muschietti’s sole feature film credit before this was the forgettable though well directed, Mama. It’s understandable that New Line Cinema deemed him able to direct the Stephen King remake, but few could have predicted just how able. Where most horror films have one “big baddy”, this film has him in Pennywise, but also a plethora of others than could have each garnered their own film. Muschietti, somehow, was able to make every minute of the nearly two-and-a-half-hour picture captivating without trying to do too much with too little time.
“It is a horror film that is loaded with hilarity, reminiscence, peculiarity, and wit around every corner; although when it comes to the terror, scare for scare, it may be in the middle percentile of recent horror gems, even if it is a better movie than them.”
Unfortunately, this review has come about a week late, and the question as to whether the film is going to play well has been answered to the tune of $123 million. It will satisfy horror geeks and casual filmgoers alike; personally, the film contented me though didn’t exceed my high expectations. An 8/10 is a great film, one that’ll stick in the minds of audiences come the end of the year and years to come, but sadly not one that’ll have me shouting from the rooftops for all to see.
Cinema 35 Rating: 8/10